Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | February 28, 2003

Hail to the Thief

Alert reader CADEM points to a new Faux poll that shows Bush is only barely ahead in the ballot test against a generic Democratic candidate. That's right -- a Faux poll.

"When asked how they would vote if the 2004 presidential election were held today, a plurality says they would vote to re-elect Bush (42 percent) and almost as many (38 percent) say they would vote for the Democrat," Faux noted. That's up from 21 percent who said they would vote Democratic in January 2002. It's also within the margin of error.

It's interesting to note how Bush's share in the generic ballot test has consistently trailed his overall approval rating. That was also the case, for example, in a recent Gallup poll:

Generic ballot -- Bush 47% Democrat 39% Undecided/Other 14%

Approve/disapprove -- Approve 57% Disapprove 37% Undecided 6%.

This plays into a pet theory of mine from last winter, which was that Bush's high approval ratings after 9/11 always reflected support for the presidency more than they did personal approval of Bush.

Most Americans are patriotic -- yeah, even Dems -- and usually rally around the flag in a war or foreign crisis. So after 9/11, when pollsters asked people if they approved of President Bush, I think many of them consciously or unconsciously intepreted the question as "Do you support the leader of your country?" Or even: "Do you love your country?"

Who's going to tell a pollster they hate their country?

As the Pollkatz charts vividly illustrate, the 9/11 effect has largely worn off. But it still lingers. So it appears there are plenty of people willing to say they approve of Bush, even though they don't particularly want to see him reelected next year.

It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated after the Iraq invasion. It wouldn't surprise me if Bush's approval ratings soar again, while his ballot test numbers don't, or at least don't go up nearly as much.

Of course, if another shock, such as a major terrorist attack, hit next year, closer to the election, support for the presidency in the polls might be more likely to translate into support for Bush at the polls. But if I were Karl Rove, I sure wouldn't count on it.


Posted February 28, 2003 11:29 PM | Comments (15)


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